Pork Hock & Meatball Stew (Ragout De Pattes Et Boulettes)

DSCF7098 (640x480)I am back after several weeks of hiatus.  There was a lull and a gray mist that left me with basically nothing to write nor to cook about that was worth of a blog. Moreover, unknowingly I guess, stress might have caught-up on me and I had to step back for a bit and set aside other matters (including Tai Chi and reading)  to gather much needed energy and personal motivation to continue writing about personal food accounts or food ‘stories.’  I went to several groceries for some inspirational kicking in the butt, however I still fell short of coming up with something productive that is worth remembering and instead became counterproductive.  I ended up buying cuts with no stories nor special myths behind them, up until last week when I was eavesdropping into a conversation by two ladies discussing oatmeal recipes in a crowded bus during the morning rush hour. I was intrigued how passionate the other woman was about vigorously stirring the ‘organic’ oats to achieve the appropriate consistency in the end product.  The discussion went further about the various fruits, sugar (never sugars, please) and milk or ‘add-ons’ which made the oatmeal more succulent and savoury. And when they skipped-off the bus, I recalled how much oats I have vigorously stirred throughout my professional kitchen life and I was not really passionate about waiting and stirring non-stop until the oats had thicken.  My neck was on the line and I had other chits on my board about a mile long. I’ve definitely done many, and I just smiled throughout the trip up until I reached work. I don’t do oats anymore. It has been substituted by rice enough to feed at least 200 (Iska knows. She’s my food and just recently shoe confidante when I’m in the weeds). Thanks!

I still came home empty-handed after work, but found this pork hock recipe instead. It’s a French-Canadian Christmas recipe of Quebec which further inspired me to make it. Luckily, I bought and froze a package of hocks during those static moments when ‘it’ was not arriving. Moreover, by the summer is over, Christmas will be knocking on our doors again and this should be perfect for those cold and wintry days and nights.  I have no idea how traditional or authentic this could be, but as long as there are hocks involved,  I am all-in for that.  Who doesn’t love pork hocks? Who doesn’t love ‘Pata’? Who doesn’t love anything crispy and crunchy? I’m not heading to that though, unfortunately. Sorry Philippines.

There were several ways how it was done, but the basic browning of the meat and creating a nutty roux were always included in the procedures.   I skipped the browning procedure and did it the Filipino way of preparing a ‘Pata’ by boiling the hocks for hours end until tender with a bunch of aromatics and spices and added and reduced the chicken stock and pork broth in one pot.


  • Pork Hocks
  • Ground Beef or Pork
  • Chicken Stock
  • Onions, diced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • All Spice
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Bayleaf
  • Butter
  • Sea Salt & Ground Black Pepper


  • Onions, minced
  • Garlic, minced to a paste
  • Cinnamon
  • All Spice
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour

Boil the hocks in warm water until tender with the aromatics and spices.

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Pull the hocks, drain the pork broth, and shred the meat off the bone.  Combine the chicken stock and pork broth in a separate pot and reduce to half.

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Heat oil and butter in a pot and saute the onion and garlic until aromatic.  Dust with flour and stir until the roux turns golden to brown.  Add the reduced chicken stock and pork broth into the pot. Return the shredded meat into the stock, season with the same seasonings as with the pork broth and boil to simmer.

Cook the meatballs in a pot of boiling water, strain and add them into the pot.  Stir gently and serve with potatoes or French bread. I served mine with steamed rice. I was hungry.

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Callos a la Madrilena

DSCF7064 (640x513)Breakfast was a huge part of my growing-up years.  If the ‘Cosby Show’ was a special evening event for everybody, eating and having an egg paired with freshly brewed coffee (it was still relatively new to me) and longganisa was a matrimonial celebration. However, there were mornings that really didn’t flash that picture perfect plate on the table.  Canned corned beef and sometimes, sardines were the only  easy, ready-to-prepare meals available in the cupboard.  I  enjoyed those too together with the boundless and endless variety of dried fish and ‘dilis,’ also only available in Southeast Asia,  but at worst, pork and beans would be served. When that happens, I’d be hoping I’d find the pork in all those beans, and when I do it was usually just a dime size cut of a pork belly. That became a butt-of-a -joke in school and at home as advertisements flooded the TV for that particular brand. Well, after all those years, I just realized it was really joke. It should have been renamed as ‘Beans in Tomato Sauce’, or ‘Beans in a Can.’  It became a definite challenge to many to spread all the beans on the plate and find the ‘pork,’ and as a play, only find  a couple in the game.  I pity those with poor eye sight at a young age who had a difficult time finding the pork.  Anyway, whoever had two or more was the winner.  Most times, I’d find one stuck at the bottom of the can; clinging in all those fat that crystallized in time and whatever other ingredients mixed with it that made it so stickily delicious.  Today, I serve beans (still in cans) with Franks. I just discovered that Franks & Beans were special for many Baby Boomers at this side of the world as it was to my childhood years in Manila.

Filipinos don’t exactly have the inclination towards eating beans as much as South Americans do. Eating excessively fatty pork though is more appropriate and fitting to their diet and palate (as to many Spanish influenced colonies) despite its hazardous impact to health.  Callos is similar to Pork & Beans, but with all the fat and cartilage from the pig’s feet and tripe more than the beans, and the beans an optional ingredient; an exact and definite opposite of the Pork & Beans many Filipino kids learned to love and grew up with.  Moreover, based on pure observation,  many Filipinos tend to eat Callos as part of their mains with rice, and with deadly ingredients as such, it should be eaten cautiously or even sparingly. I clearly recall Callos for dinner too and I really didn’t realize it was Callos until the household help told me. I felt  it was Menudo again for the third straight night  (glad it was not adobo) so that I’d eat my supper. I treat Callos similar to Tapas; served in small plates with wine or a glass of beer.

This is my interpretation of Callos a la Madrilena. I still have that urge and that drive to return to Spain and to Europe in general and hopefully make it in an annual event, and cooking something familiar to take me there temporarily makes me a happy man. I know that won’t happen until later; much later.


  • Pig’s feet
  • Honeycomb Beef Tripe
  • Spanish Chorizo, diced
  • Garlic, diced
  • Spanish onions, chopped
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • Pinto Beans (Optional)
  • Pimenton Picante or Spanish Paprika
  • Saffron Threads or Saffron Powder
  • Ground Blackpeppercorns
  • Sea Salt

Boil the pig’s feet and honeycomb tripe until tender.  Set aside and let cool. Chop the pig’s feet into half and remove the skin and cartilage. Chop the tripe in bite size pieces.

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Heat a pan with olive oil, and start browning  the chorizos.  Saute the garlic and onions on the same pan until aromatic.  Add the crushed tomatoes and boil to simmer; about five to ten minutes.  Dump the pig’s feet and tripe into the pan followed by the Roma Tomatoes, Pimenton, Saffron and ground blackpeppercorns.  Boil to simmer one more time and add the beans before serving.

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It took me about two hours to boil the feet and tripe. I also added some aromatics much like a broth just to add more flavour (and reduce the foul smell in the process).  Again, this is simplicity at its finest with the best and freshest ingredients to raise the bar of an offal.

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Braised Beef Tendons

DSCF6996 (640x510)I can’t seem to stay away from fat and cartilages as much as lamb, beef or veal. Whenever I visit my regular dimsum restaurant, I always have the urge and the tendency to order Beef Tendons. It’s always on my list of a three to four course dimsum meal; keeping me at ease again in preparation for next week’s surge. My week does not start until the weekend and if my internal clock does not tick properly in time for work, the week ahead maybe in shambles or unpredictable. That maybe a stressful struggle ahead which I try to avoid at all circumstances on my ‘weekends.’ I want my workweek ahead predictable and easy, although it can be difficult most of the times.

I always need that quiet and peaceful moment. I don’t or even hardly eat the food I prepare for clients. When I step-out of my work sanctuary, I search for ‘real food,’ spicy delectables which would trigger my appetite for the next couple of days and keep me up to speed for more activities during the day; food that would nourish and put me to deep slumber. I noticed lately that I only had three restaurants that I regularly and rotatingly visit on my Friday: an Indian, a Japanese and a Chinese. Almost all other else fall under the ‘fastfood’ category which I have totally omitted from my diet and list a long time ago. It just pays to know best about food handling and preparation, and my body isn’t taking in unknown substances no matter how clean or hygienic they were assembled.

I’ve never really encountered Beef Tendons as a child. My food genre at that period was mainly categorized to Filipino and I never appreciated international cuisines. When I entered the professional kingdom many called ‘work,’ my eating habits matured a little and had begun to transform. However, that only occurred a tad bit late in my life and I didn’t really experience much as much as others are currently experiencing them now in the Pinas. Food choices have exploded in the last two decades and concept restaurants mushroomed in business districts; for a price of course.

This is Braised Beef Tendons in Chinese Beef Broth. I initially did the broth before starting the tendons, and braised the tendons using a roasting pan instead of the conventional stockpot. It’s not red as I ate and had them in my dimsum place. That remains a mystery to me. It was, as I recalled, bright red, succulent and slippery to the bite, and that redness was not exactly biting hot or invitingly sweet.

The procedure for the Beef Broth is under the Braised Beef Noodle Soup (check the link) which I made about a year to a year and a half ago. Ingredients, however, are listed below.


A pack of Beef Tendons
Chinese Beef Broth

Beef Broth:
Beef Shank
Light Soy Sauce
Green Onion
White and Blackpeppercorns
Szechuan Peppercorns
Star Anise
Cinnamon Stick
Five-Spice Powder

Set the beef tendons on a roasting pan and pour some beef broth. Cover and pop it in the oven (low & slow) for next three to four hours or until soft and tender.

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Set aside to cool and steam the tendons until ready to serve.

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I feel like cooking for another group of fifty while preparing my food for the next several days.  I missed home cooked meals; eating quick pasta recipes for the last couple of weeks after committing myself to a more challenging kitchen just about three weeks ago. This kitchen is about three times as large as my previous kitchen escapades and there are about 25 people to feed lunch and supper on a daily basis, twice that on a Tuesday. Tuesday has become my new Friday and this has totally knocked-off my internal clock. I feel so jetlagged and miserable every Wednesday and the weekends have become extremely long; working on my own and feeling so detached from the outside world. Unfortunately, I also lost my holidays as so common in the industry.

What’s challenging about this work is the ability of the cook to recycle or reinterpret everything on the menu and make something out of the ordinary.  Some recipes don’t make sense at all and of course, ingredients are quite limited. The kitchen does not carry so much in its inventory and almost everything is inexpensive. The Chef is also as relatively new as I am and he was assigned to clear-up and rejuvenate the kitchen which has been neglected for the last few years. I’ve been tasked to assist him while he focuses on a more supervisorial duty as instructed by management: in short, his bitch. There’s a third person also involved during the week, but his area of concern is salads and desserts and the overall maintenance and cleanliness of the entire kitchen.

I would usually be in my hideaway on a Wednesday morning and fast asleep in the afternoon thereafter. I’m quite exhausted throughout my ‘weekend’ and a good, satisfying and heavy home-cooked meal apt for this and for the season alleviate this very unusual switch. Weekends on weekdays just feel strange and queer after having a regular weekend for almost a year.  I would have wanted it to last longer. As Fall enters, many braised dishes help warm a very tired soul. This is my favourite season as well given that there is more food choices in the supermarkets as much as there are in retail outlets.

About two weeks ago, I bought a pack of pork tongue hoping to make a very Filipino popular dish, Lengua. I tasted a tomato based Lengua from a friend’s house a few months ago and was thrown aback on how soft it tasted to the bite.  I just had to have a hand on making this one. I never knew the preparation of the tongue would be as labour intensive as scrubbing a toilet inside out (a public toilet). Anyway, this almost half a day preparation pushed me back another day just to release myself from the smell and the torture of removing the top skin which, according to many, taste bitter and rancid.  That extra day cleared my own tongue from what a pork tongue would have actually tasted if I had proceeded on cooking it the same day.

This Lengua is a hybrid version of the recipes I read. It has been years since I’ve tried one and I wouldn’t have any idea how it was really prepared if I hadn’t had the chance to try it again.


  • Pork Tongue, boiled & cleaned
  • Smoked Bacon
  • Olive Oil
  • Spanish Onions, minced
  • Garlic minced
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Beef Stock
  • White wine
  • Tomato Puree
  • Yellow Petite Potatoes, peeled
  • Mushrooms, thinly chopped
  • Chickpeas, canned
  • Bayleaves


  • Garlic, Roasted & peeled
  • Shallots, Roasted

Dust the boiled and cleaned pork tongue with seasoned flour.  Pan-fry until golden and set aside. On the same, pan-fry the smoked bacon until crunchy. Add more olive oil if necessary.  Move on one side of the pan and add the minced garlic & onion.







Start adding the white wine, tomato puree, bayleaves, potatoes, mushrooms, and beef stock and return the tongue back into the pan. Boil to simmer and cover. Shove in a 325’C oven until the tongue becomes fork tender.  Add the chickpeas at the last minute and discard the bayleaves before serving.



Garnish with roasted garlic and shallots.



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